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What is the history and origin of ramie fiber?

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Ramie is known to be one of the oldest textile fibers and is believed to have originated in the Malay Peninsula. Ramie is resistant to bacteria and mildew because of which ramie fiber was used in Egypt, in the period of 5000-3000 BC for making mummy cloths. For centuries, Ramie has also been grown in China under the name zhuma where the farmers are known to have used the fiber to weave clothing.

In the late 1930s, Brazil also began to cultivate ramie plants but due to competition with alternative crops, such as soybeans and synthetic fibers, its production has steadily decreased. Around the 1950s, the Philippines also started to cultivate ramies.

Taiwanese people have also used ramie in fabric production and they still use ramie fibers to produce their traditional cloth called garb which is worn in their festivals. An open weave fabric called mechera is produced from ramie fiber which is used to produce shirts and dressing gowns suitable for warm climates. In the early 20th century, this fabric was also used by French painter Raoul Dufy to print different patterns.

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